Where we live


Page last updated: 2019 - due to be refreshed in 2021.


1 Five key points

  1. There are around 340,000 homes in Suffolk. Nearly 9 in 10 homes are a house or bungalow, and the rest are flats or apartments. (3 Housing stock)  
  2. 640 households were recorded as homeless and in priority need in Suffolk in 2017/18. Official statistics suggest that 55 people were sleeping rough, which is more than double the number in 2010. (4.5 Homelessness)  
  3. Fuel poverty is closely linked to the thermal efficiency of a home. 10.4% of Suffolk households were in fuel poverty in 2016 (33,889 homes). (4.2 Fuel poverty)  
  4.  The average house price in Suffolk has increased by 34% over the last five years and the median house price in Suffolk is now more than eight times higher than the median salary. (3.4 Affordability)  
  5. An assessment of housing need based on Government methodology suggests that more than 62,000 new Suffolk homes will need to be built over the next 20 years to meet demand. (5.1 Estimates of housing need)

2 Why is housing important in Suffolk?

Good quality housing has a substantial impact on health; a warm, dry and secure home is associated with better health. Nationally, substandard housing conditions are estimated to cost the NHS more than £1.4 billion per year.[1] Other factors that help to improve wellbeing, in addition to basic housing requirements, include:

  • the neighbourhood
  • security of tenure 
  • modifications for those with disabilities

Poor housing is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, depression and anxiety, although the exact relationship between poor housing and health is complex and difficult to assess.[2] The negative effects of substandard housing conditions disproportionately affect vulnerable groups such as older people, children, those with little or no support network and adults with disabilities. Some of the links between housing and health are explored in Figure 1.

Studies using population data suggest that the strongest links between housing and health are for:[3]

  • accidents: 45% of accidents occur in the home and accidents are in the top 10 causes of death for all ages.
  • cold: cold homes are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory and rheumatoid diseases, as well as hypothermia and poorer mental health.

Figure 1: The links between housing and health[4]

Links between housing and health

Source: Public Health Suffolk County Council, “State of Suffolk 2015,” Ipswich, 2015.

3 What is the local picture? Housing stock

3.1 Types of housing

There were an estimated 341,080 properties in Suffolk in 2018, an increase of around 30,000 homes since the 2011 Census, when 310,745 households were recorded.[5], [6]

In the 2011 Census:

  • nearly 9 in 10 homes (87.9%) were a whole house or bungalow
  • around a third were detached (35.0%)
  • a third were semi-detached (31.0%) 
  • one-fifth were terraced (21.9%)
  • 1 in 10 (11.5%) were flats or apartments
  • a small number were caravans or other mobile structures (0.5%)

Flats were more common in urban areas than rural areas; 1 in 4 (23.4%) properties in Ipswich were flats compared to fewer than 1 in 20 (4.4%) properties in rural areas.

Although Suffolk is a largely rural county, most properties (61.1%) were located in urban areas.

3.2 Tenure

Around two thirds of homes (67.2%) were owned, either outright (35.7%) or with a mortgage (31.5%), based on the tenancy status of households at the time of the 2011 Census. Around one in six homes were socially rented (14.8%) and one in seven homes were privately rented (15.6%).[7]

3.3 Energy efficiency

Only 15% of homes in Suffolk have been built in the past 20 years. Newer homes tend to be more energy efficient than older homes. Modern energy efficiency standards mean newer homes are better insulated, have more effective windows and are likelier to use efficient technologies throughout the home. Nearly half of the housing stock in Suffolk is over 50 years old and almost 1 in 5 (18.0%) houses were built before 1900.[8]

The Suffolk Housing Stock database was developed in 2015 by the National Energy Foundation (NEF). NEF compiled and modelled data on the County’s housing stock to assess energy use and potential for improvement to reduce carbon emissions. The energy performance of housing stock can be summarised using Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings. EPC ratings were known for around 40% of homes in the database.

The average EPC rating in Suffolk in 2015 was 62.1 Standard Assessment Procedure rating (SAP) (band D) in 2015, based on the Housing Stock database (Figure 2). This is slightly better than the UK average of 58.5 SAP (lower band D), as reported by the English Housing Survey 2012-13.

Figure 2: Proportion of housing stock by EPC rating, Suffolk, 2015[8]

Proportion of housing stock by EPC rating, Suffolk

Source: L. Smith and J. Hill, ‘Suffolk Housing Stock Database: Headline Energy Report’, 2015

This figure is likely to be skewed towards more positive ratings, as EPC ratings are mandatory for new builds. However, the proportion of F/G rated properties is higher than the national average, perhaps reflecting challenges faced by the private rented sector, the age of the housing stock and the rurality of the County.[8]

There are large savings to be gained from increasing energy efficiency, but these savings are over the long term and there would need to be substantial initial outlay to achieve them. Half the annual cost of heating Suffolk homes (£88 million out of £170 million) could be saved by implementing standard energy efficiency improvements (e.g. insulation, draught-proofing, installing new heating systems). However, the costs of these improvements range from £1,945 to £22,111 per household, with a total cost of £2.32 billion. It would take 26 years for this initial investment to be recovered in saved heating costs.[8]

3.4 Affordability

The average house price in Suffolk has increased by 33.8% over the last five years.[9] Among the lowest priced quartile of houses, the increase has been even greater, at 39.1%.[9] Such a rapid increase in house prices makes it considerably harder for all people to afford housing, particularly those on low incomes.

The ratio of median house price to median gross earnings (the affordability ratio) in Suffolk is 8.38, which means that the median house price is 8.38 times higher than the median salary. The affordability ratio has increased in all Suffolk districts between 2012 and 2017 (Figure 3). The highest increase was seen in Mid Suffolk, where the affordability ratio is now 9.81. This makes Mid Suffolk the least affordable area within Suffolk.

Figure 3: Ratio of median house price to median gross earnings (the affordability ratio) by Suffolk district, 2012 and 2017[10]

Figure 3: Ratio of median house price to median gross earnings (the affordability ratio) by Suffolk district, 2012 and 2017

Source: Office for National Statistics, ‘House price to residence-based earnings ratio’, 2018

3.5 Future trends

Suffolk +20, a series of presentations produced by the Knowledge & Intelligence Team in Public Health Suffolk, projected that Suffolk's higher than average house price to income ratios are set to rise further:

  • house prices are likely to continue to increase if build rates remain low
  • mortgage costs are likely to rise (as interest rates are likely to rise from current historic lows)
  • rental costs may also rise to offset tax changes affecting landlords

Fewer younger people and families are likely to be able to afford good quality housing:

  • rents have risen faster than earnings over the past 10 years
  • rents are forecast to rise by around 90% in real terms between 2008 and 2040 – more than twice as fast as incomes
  • the private rented sector expanded significantly from 10% to 18% between 2002 and 2012, with both home-ownership and social rented sector declining

The impact:

  • 60,000 (70%) of 25-34 year-olds in Suffolk will be living in private rented sector accommodation by 2037 according to projections.

4 What is the local picture? Households

4.1 Density

The centres of Suffolk’s urban areas have the highest population density: Ipswich, Lowestoft, Felixstowe, Bury St Edmunds. Higher population density spreads north east up the A12 from Ipswich towards Eyke and Sutton, and on the A14 corridor between Ipswich and Newmarket. The density map (Figure 4) highlights Suffolk’s market towns, and shows how many of the County’s centres of population are on its borders, meaning residents may look outside Suffolk for work and recreation.

Figure 4: ONS population density by hectare, by LSOA, Suffolk, 2016(Office for National Statistics, 2018)[11]

ONS population density by hectare, by LSOA, Suffolk, 2016

Source: Office for National Statistics. (2018). Lower layer Super Output Area population density.

4.2 Fuel poverty

Fuel poverty in England is measured using the Low Income High Costs (LIHC) indicator, under which a household is considered to be fuel poor if:

  • it has required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level)
  • required fuel costs would leave it with a residual income below the official poverty line

Fuel poverty is closely linked to the thermal efficiency of a home. Households with uninsulated solid walls (16.8%) are more than twice as likely to be in fuel poverty than those living in homes with insulated cavity walls (7.6%).[12]

Older dwellings have a higher proportion of households in fuel poverty than newer dwellings. Nearly 1 in 5 (18.6%) households in dwellings built between 1900-1918 were fuel poor compared to just 1 in 25 (4.2%) households in dwellings built since 1990. The level of fuel poverty is higher in the private rented sector (19.4%) compared to those in owner occupied properties (7.7%).

10.4% of all households in the County (33,889) were estimated to be in fuel poverty in 2016 (the most recently published data) (Table 1). Nationally, the proportion of fuel poor households is estimated to be 11.1%.[13]

4,500 households entered fuel poverty in 2016. Most Suffolk districts saw an increase, and this was most notable in Ipswich and Waveney. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of fuel poor increased by more than 2,000 households in Ipswich and by more than 1,300 households in Waveney. In 2016, Ipswich had the highest number and proportion of fuel poor households (7,251; 12.1%) and Waveney had the second highest (6,320; 11.8%) (Table 1). These figures indicate that a social gradient exists in fuel poverty: the lower your income the more likely you are to be at risk of fuel poverty.  

Table 1: Estimated number of fuel poor households by local authority, 2016[13]


Estimated number of households

Estimated number of fuel poor households

Proportion of households fuel poor (%)





 Forest Heath 








 Mid Suffolk




 St Edmundsbury




 Suffolk Coastal












Source: Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, ‘Sub-regional fuel poverty data’, 2018. 

Figure 5: Proportion of households that were fuel poor by LSOA, 2016, Suffolk[13]

Proportion of households that were fuel poor by LSOA

Source: Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, ‘Sub-regional fuel poverty data’, 2018. 

Fuel poverty is more likely to affect people living in rural areas (12.7%) rather than urban (11.1%) or rural town and fringe (9.9% ) (Figure 5). People who rent their home are also more likely to experience fuel poverty, especially private rented tenants (19.4%, compared to an England average of 11.1%, owner occupied 7.7%). Social disadvantage is particularly marked for lone parents with dependent children, where over a quarter of households (26.5%) experience fuel poverty (Figure 6).[14]

Figure 6: Fuel poverty by household composition, 2016, England[14]

live Figure 6: Fuel poverty by household composition, 2016, England

Source: Public Health England. Wider Determinants of Health: Suffolk area profile. Public Health Profiles

4.3 Excess winter deaths

Excess winter deaths (EWD) are calculated by taking the number of deaths occurring in the winter months (December – March) and subtracting the average number of deaths from the four non-winter months either side of this period to give the excess. Although increased winter mortality is due to various causes, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that 30% of EWD can be attributed to the impact of cold housing.[15] 

Combining available statistics on EWD with the estimate that 30% are caused by cold homes, suggests that there were 1,230 deaths in Suffolk due to cold homes in the 10-year period from 2005 to 2015. This is an average of 123 deaths per year, ranging from 66 in 2006/07 to 222 in 2014/15.

It has been estimated that around 10% of excess winter deaths may be directly attributable to fuel poverty[16], this would equate to an average of 41 deaths per year in Suffolk. 

4.4 Overcrowding and under-occupancy

There are two measures of occupancy used in the 2011 Census to assess overcrowding and under-occupancy;

  1. occupancy based on the total number of rooms in a household’s accommodation 
  2. occupancy based only on the number of bedrooms

A standard formula calculates the  number of rooms/bedrooms a household requires, based on the ages of the household members and their relationships to each other. The household is then given an "occupancy rating":

  • -1 implies the household has one fewer room/bedroom than required 
  • +1 implies there is one more room/bedroom than the standard requirement

78.7% (562,000) of usual residents in households in Suffolk lived in under-occupied housing, with an occupancy rating of +1 or more at the 2011 Census.[17] This compared with 74.5% in the East of England and 69.7% in England. The proportions ranged from 69.4% in Ipswich to 84.0% in Mid Suffolk.

89.5% of people aged 65 and over lived in under-occupied housing, compared with 87.4% in East of England and 85.3% in England. 2% of people aged 65 and over lived in overcrowded housing, compared with 2.6% in East of England and 3.3% in England.

5.7% (40,704) of usual residents in households in Suffolk lived in overcrowded housing, defined as having an occupancy rating of -1 or less (2011 Census).[17]  This compared with 7.9% in East of England and 11.1% in England. In districts and boroughs, the percentages ranged from 3.6% in Mid Suffolk to 9.8% in Ipswich. At ward level, overcrowding ranged from 1.2% (Great Barton, St. Edmundsbury) to 18.5% (Westgate, Ipswich), with a median of 3.7%. Overcrowding was most common in urban wards in Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds, Haverhill and Newmarket (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Proportion of population living in overcrowded conditions[17]

Figure 7: Proportion of population living in overcrowded conditions

Source: Office for National Statistics, ‘Census 2011: Occupancy rating (rooms)’, 2014.

4.5 Homelessness

640 households were recorded as homeless and in priority need in 2017/18, up from 545 in 2015/16.[18]  The statutory homelessness definition considers individuals or families who local authorities are obliged to assist. These figures do not reflect households in precarious housing situations who may have come close to homelessness during this time. People who are homeless (lacking their own secure, separate accommodation) but who don’t formally apply or register with a local authority or other homelessness agencies are omitted from official statistics. These households are often referred to as the ‘hidden homeless’.[19]

 Districts with the highest number of homeless households in 2017/18 were:

  • Ipswich (175)
  • St Edmundsbury (138)
  • Forest Heath (103)

Forest Heath has significantly fewer households than other districts and therefore its count of 103 households recorded as homeless and in priority need gives it the highest rate of homelessness in Suffolk: 3.81 per 1,000 households.

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts report on homeless households[20] stated that all homelessness measures in England have risen since 2010, including an increase of 73% by 2017 in the number of children in temporary accommodation.[20] By 2018, the number of individuals counted as sleeping rough increased by 269% from 1,768 to 4,751.[18] The report[20] also notes that the true extent of homelessness is likely to be much higher; the charity Crisis estimates that 9,100 people were sleeping rough at any one time in 2016.[21]

Between 2010 and 2018, the recorded number of people sleeping rough in Suffolk increased by 229%, from 24 to 55. Most rough sleepers recorded in Suffolk in 2018 were in St Edmundsbury (36%), Waveney (25%) and Ipswich (20%).[22]

Research indicates increases in the number of people who sofa surf (sleep on floors/settees of a friend or relative). The charity Crisis reports a 53% increase in sofa surfing households in Great Britain between 2011-2016, with an estimated 68,300 households in Great Britain sofa surfing in 2016.[21] In the same report, Crisis indicates that the number of rough sleepers in Great Britain could rise by 76% over the next 10 years (from 9,100 to 16,000).

Although the number of homeless people is generally very small in relation to the wider population in which they live, the health impacts, outcomes and inequalities experienced by this group are often significant. Ill health can be both a cause of homelessness and a consequence of it. Homelessness can also result from the loss of a job, social exclusion or a serious illness or accident, but in all cases the health – physical and mental – of the homeless is at risk.  

Homeless people are particularly vulnerable to tuberculosis (TB). They are more likely to be exposed to TB bacteria in hostel accommodation or settings where homeless people gather to sleep or socialise. The immune stresses associated with homelessness – such as rough sleeping, cold, poor nutrition and drink or drug misuse – then make it more likely that someone exposed to TB will go on to develop the illness.[24], [25]  Injecting drug use is often more prevalent within homeless communities than in the general population. In addition to the health impacts of the substance misuse itself, the practice of sharing needles is a risk factor in the potential contraction of hepatitis and other blood borne viruses.

Accessing services for the homeless can be challenging for many reasons. Even if there is no reluctance to approach services, the homeless often have difficulty accessing services because of factors including:

  • having no fixed address
  • having no formal identification documentation
  • living in an area where there is limited or no service provision and where transport to services elsewhere is also limited and inaccessible on a financial level (this is particularly an issue in rural parts of Suffolk)
  • a chaotic lifestyle making it difficult to keep appointments
  • waiting lists to access services
  • the complexity of health needs, such as having a dual diagnosis of mental ill health and substance misuse, which adds further difficulty in accessing services

The consequences of these inequalities in access to services and appropriate support and treatment can be poorer health outcomes, such as prolonged periods of poor health, and even premature death. Rates of mortality in homeless populations are high in both absolute and relative terms compared to the general population, especially where chronic homelessness exists alongside tri-morbidity, that is, experiencing physical and mental ill health as well as substance misuse.[26]

Nationally, homeless deaths have risen in recent years. In 2017, 491 deaths were identified among homeless people in England and Wales, with an estimated actual figure of 597.[27]  Of identified deaths:

  • 84.3% were male and 15.7% were female
  • Half of identified deaths were recorded as accidents
  • Suicide was the second highest recorded cause of death (15.9%)
  • One in ten homeless deaths were recorded as being of diseases of the liver (10.6%)

A study commissioned by Crisis and undertaken by the University of Sheffield looking at the causes of death in homeless people in England found that they are:[28], [29]

  • seven times more likely to die from alcohol related diseases than the general population
  • 20 times more likely to die from drug misuse
  • More than three times more likely to die from suicide than the general population
  • Almost seven times more likely to die from HIV or hepatitis
  • Three times more likely to die from chronic lower respiratory diseases than the general population, with an average age of death from this of 56 compared to 76
  • Twice as likely to die from heart attacks and chronic heart disease and at an average age of 59 – 16 years lower than the general population which is 75-years-old

There are also impacts on other health services of ill health within the homeless population. If homeless people are unable or unwilling to access community-based health care services, coupled with a lack of preventative and responsive treatment, this can lead to higher use of "unscheduled care such as A&E departments and ambulances"’ as well as longer stays in hospital.[26]

This  has demand and cost implications on services; it has been suggested that the homeless are one of the "most costly populations that the NHS provides provision for (8 times that of the housed population)".[26] In an environment where resources are scarce, it is imperative that the health needs of homeless populations are effectively considered and addressed, not only to improve the health impacts and outcomes for this group, but also to remove pressure from the ‘emergency’ end of health care provision.

4.6 Deprived areas

The English Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2019 were published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in September 2019.[30] The IMD provides a way of comparing relative deprivation across England using seven domains; income, employment, health and disability, education, crime, barriers to housing and services, and the living environment. Relative deprivation shows how deprived an area is relative to other areas in England, so an area may become more or less deprived even if the absolute level of deprivation remains the same. This is different to absolute deprivation, which defines a minimum level of need enabling a person able to subsist and to participate actively in society. 

Figure 8 shows Suffolk categorised into deprivation quintiles, with the most deprived quintile in England shown in dark red and the least deprived quintile shown in dark green. Pockets of greater relative deprivation can be found in more built up areas such as Beccles, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Lowestoft, and Stowmarket.

Although the most deprived areas in Suffolk are concentrated in towns and other urban areas, highly localised rural deprivation occurs when small pockets of deprivation are masked in the data by areas of relative affluence. Very small areas of deprivation are difficult to identify and may mean people do not receive the same levels of resource and intervention that a larger and more defined area would.[31]

Research into hidden needs in Suffolk highlighted three aspects of deprivation which have been constantly more concentrated in Suffolk since 2007.[32] While children's education affects all areas of Suffolk, rural areas are particularly affected by accessibility to services (the average distances between neighbourhoods and post office, primary school, food shop and GP surgery) and the associated additional costs of travel, and housing quality and affordability (including high domestic fuel costs). Key issues affecting the health and wellbeing of rural communities include:[33]

  • low paid work
  • fuel poverty
  • high housing costs
  • unemployment among young people
  • social isolation, especially among older people
  • difficulty accessing healthcare services such as GPs and dentists
  • lack of suitable public transport options
  • poor broadband and mobile phone network availability

Figure 8: Index of Multiple Deprivation, Suffolk, 2019[30]

IMD Suffolk 2019

Source: Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, “Indices of Deprivation 2019,” 2019.

Deprivation, whether experienced in an urban or rural location, can significantly influence an individual’s health and wellbeing. People living in the most deprived areas have on average the lowest life expectancy. Males living in the most deprived tenth of areas can expect to live 9.4 fewer years compared with the least deprived tenth, and females can expect to live 7.6 fewer years.[34b] Almost half of the difference in life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas in England is due to excess deaths from heart disease, stroke, and cancer in the most deprived areas. These are also the causes that make up a large proportion of the burden of premature death in England overall.[34b]

As well as lower life expectancy, there is a higher prevalence of many behavioural risk factors among more deprived areas compared with less deprived areas.[34a] For example, in more deprived areas, the prevalence of inactivity higher,[34c] while the proportion of people eating the recommended 5-a-day of fruit and vegetables is lower.[34d]  In the UK, around 1 in 4 people in routine and manual occupations smoke, this is around 2.5 times higher than people in managerial and professional occupations.[34e] These are among the key behavioural risk factors for heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease deaths.[34a]

4.7 Groups with specialist needs

There are a number of community groups in Suffolk who may be at greater risk of living in unsuitable housing. The housing needs of these community groups are considered in further detail in the Suffolk Housing and Health Needs Assessment.[35] There is a State of Suffolk chapter on groups at risk of disadvantage.

4.7.1 Older people

Some older people have specialist needs in terms of housing. Issues relating to mobility, dexterity and frailty may all lead to needs for greater levels of care at home, or adaptations to the home. In 2018 there were approximately 14,500 available places for older people in age-exclusive housing (Table 3), specialist housing (Table 4) and care beds (Table 5). Estimates suggest this will need to more than double to 32,000 by 2035.

4.7.2 Family carers

More than 1 in 10 people of all ages (77,745; 10.7%) in Suffolk provide at least one hour of unpaid care a week (2011 Census).[36] In May 2018, there were 8,242 individuals receiving a payment for Carers Allowance in Suffolk.[37] As the population of Suffolk ages, it is likely that the number of people providing unpaid care in Suffolk will rise.

4.7.3 Those affected by domestic abuse

 People in abusive relationships may experience many housing issues. Living in an unsafe environment is a risk to physical and mental health. However, there may be significant barriers to leaving an abusive home, such as the presence of children, uncertainty of where to go, lack of a long term living solution and fear of being found by the abuser. Between April 2017 and March 2018 there were 10,995 recorded domestic abuse related incidents and crimes in Suffolk, which is equivalent to 15 incidents and crimes for every 1,000 people in the population.[38]

Domestic abuse related crimes account for 1 in 8 (13%) crimes in Suffolk over this period, which is comparable to England and Wales (12%).[38]

4.7.4 Transient populations

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) populations are a key transient population in Suffolk; other transient populations include students, migrants and seasonal workers. The GRT population in Suffolk has been estimated at approximately 1,500 individuals.[23]

GRT groups are likely to experience poor health and have a life expectancy 10 years lower than the general population. The Suffolk Groups at Risk of Disadvantage needs assessment[23] identified that although GRT populations who travelled had generally better health than those on static sites, Roma communities in Ipswich were living in generally poor quality housing and tended to have large families. Regardless of travelling status, GRT communities share the need for secure housing with the wider population.[23]

4.7.5 Care leavers

The Government’s Care Leavers Strategy identifies care leavers as a vulnerable group of young adults who have particular needs in relation to housing and homelessness.[39] The strategy notes that rising demand on social housing and other accommodation is making it more difficult for young people to find suitable accommodation as they enter adulthood. It also notes that care leavers consistently report that they do not always feel safe in their accommodation.

Data for Suffolk indicates that there were 345 care leavers in 2017/18, an increase from 292 in 2016/17. At the end of 2017/18, Suffolk data indicates that 88.4% of care leavers were in suitable accommodation, 64.6% of care leavers were in education, employment or training, and 80.0% of care leavers had up to date pathway plans.

4.7.6 People that have served a custodial sentence

There are three prisons within Suffolk:

  • Warren Hill: category C (not open but low escape risk), operational capacity 264
  • Highpoint: Category C, operational capacity 1,325
  • Hollesley Bay: Category D (open), operational capacity of 480.

All are currently operating at close to capacity.[40]

It is difficult to find an accurate number of people that have been in prison and are currently living in Suffolk. The total operational capacity of prisons in Suffolk is 2,069 but people may not necessarily reside in the area after being released. It has been estimated in West Suffolk that approximately 30% of people in the housing related support system have a criminal conviction and that there are around 1,000 people currently on the case load for the national probation service across Suffolk.[41]

4.7.7 Veterans

According to Suffolk County Council's UK Armed Forces and Veterans Profile for Suffolk (2016), the estimated size of the veterans/ex-forces community in Suffolk is between 33,000- 37,000.[42] 

The veteran population is getting older, with the national service cohort contributing to the large proportion of older veterans. This age cohort is also more likely to live alone.

For some veterans the transition from military life to civilian life can be challenging. This may include difficulties finding suitable, affordable housing upon leaving the military, particularly for those experiencing mental and/or physical ill health.[42]  More information on this group's particular needs are given in the work by the Centre for Mental Health's 2016 report More than shelter[43].

5 What is the local picture? Need

5.1 Estimates of housing need

New local plans are currently being prepared for most of Suffolk, to guide planned housing development to 2036. As part of the process of establishing a consistent national methodology for estimating housing needs, Government published estimated housing needs for each local planning authority in the country, for the period 2016 – 2026.

The figures in Table 2 were calculated based on the formula proposed in the consultation document Planning for the right homes in the right places.[44] It represents the most recent point at which objectively assessed housing need (OAN) was estimated using a consistent methodology.

Table 2: Indicative assessment of housing need for the years 2016 to 2026 projected to 2036, by district, Suffolk[44]


 housing need 



 Forest Heath




 Mid Suffolk


 St Edmundsbury


 Suffolk Coastal







Source: Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals. 2017

The Government is in the process of determining how the new national methodology should be used and is consulting on revisions to the methodology. Future local plans will be required to plan to meet needs based on the results of assessment under the revised methodology.

5.2 Estimates of specialist accommodation for older people

"Specialist accommodation" is housing for older people that provides levels of support to enable a person to live independently in their own living space. It does not include care homes. Currently, only around 5% of people aged 65 and over live in specialist housing, but evidence suggests that many more older people would like to do so. There is significant evidence that living in specialist accommodation benefits older people's health and wellbeing, as well as making savings to the NHS and social care.[45] This is particularly the case for extra care housing, which has communal facilities, onsite care and support. This type of housing also helps family and carers who may struggle to provide enough care and support.

Given the ageing population of Suffolk and the financial challenges facing the NHS and social care, it seems likely that more housing aimed at older people will be required in the future. The Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations (HOSPR)[46] model is one methodology which provides local authorities with recommendations about the number of units of age-exclusive housing, specialist housing and care beds that will be needed in future years. The research, led by Sheffield Hallam's Centre for Regional and Economic Social Research, uses national data from the Elderly Accommodation Counsel about the majority of older people's housing schemes in England. The model identifies predictors of the supply of older people’s housing and uses these to recommend the future supply requirements of older people’s housing.[46]

An additional 9,713 age-exclusive homes, 15,213 specialist homes and 6,624 care beds will be required in Suffolk by 2035, according to HOSPR recommendations.[46]  

Table 3: Units of age-exclusive housing1 by current 2018 provision, recommended provision for 2035 and the difference; by local authority, Suffolk[46]
Area 2018 2035 Change
 Babergh 202 1,360 1,158
 Forest Heath 66 782 716  
 Ipswich 112 1,187 1,075 
 Mid Suffolk 83 1,471 1,388
 St Edmundsbury 19 1,608 1,589
 Suffolk Coastal 131 2,001 1,870 
 Waveney 94 2,011 1,917 
Suffolk 707 10,420 9,713

Source: Sheffield Hallam University, Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations

Table 4: Units of specialist housing2 by current 2018 provision, recommended provision for 2035 and the difference; by local authority, Suffolk[46]

Area 2018 2035 Change
 Babergh 524 3,049 2,525
 Forest Heath 575 1,550 975 
 Ipswich 1,819 2,996 1,177 
 Mid Suffolk 893 3,194 2,301  
 St Edmundsbury 1,003 3,324 2,321 
 Suffolk Coastal 1,403 4,451 3,048 
 Waveney 1,059 3,925 2,866 
Suffolk 7,276 22,489 15,213

Source: Sheffield Hallam University, Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations

Table 5: Units of care beds3 by current 2018 provision, recommended provision for 2035 and the difference; by local authority, Suffolk[46]

Area 2018 2035 Change
 Babergh 1,038 1,839 801 
 Forest Heath 331 865 534 
 Ipswich 1,041 1,778 737 
 Mid Suffolk 719 1,891 1,172 
 St Edmundsbury 985 1,908 923 
 Suffolk Coastal 1,274 2,672 1,398 
 Waveney 1,109 2,168 1,059 
Suffolk 6,497 13,121 6,624

Source: Sheffield Hallam University, Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations


  1. Age-exclusive housing is designed, built and let/sold exclusively to older people (typically 50+/55+) but without the supportive on-site management characteristics of sheltered housing.
  2. Specialist housing includes sheltered housing, enhanced sheltered housing and extra care housing; all of which offer varying levels of on-site supportive management.
  3. Care beds are residential settings where a number of older people live, usually in single rooms, and have access to on-site care; some also have registered nurses who can provide care for more complex cases. 

6 What policies affect housing?

The 2017 Housing white paper: Fixing our broken housing market identifies low levels of new house building as the root cause of housing shortage and unaffordable housing nationally.[47] It proposes a series of measures to support increased housing development,including ensuring local authorities produce realistic plans to meet the projected housing needs in their areas, enhancing the powers of local authorities to enforce the implementation of planning permissions and encouraging housing associations and local authorities to build more.

East Suffolk[48], West Suffolk[49], Ipswich[50], and Babergh and Mid Suffolk[51] councils all have current housing strategies. In general, these strategies build on the principles outlined in Housing white paper: Fixing our broken housing market, focusing on:[47]

  • increasing the delivery of new homes
  • improving the quality of existing housing
  • increasing housing options for older households and those requiring accessible homes
  • supporting the most vulnerable households to find and sustain a home

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017[52]  focuses on homelessness prevention. Against a background of many single households living in insecure private rented housing and rising levels of rough sleeping nationally, it extends the responsibilities of local authorities to provide advice and assistance at an earlier stage, including help to secure housing, for anyone in their area threatened with homelessness. It also creates a duty to develop individual Housing Plans, in line with a nationally determined template.[53]

7 Further information

8 References

[1]         Building Research Establishment, “The cost of poor housing to the NHS,” 2015. Available from: https://www.bre.co.uk/filelibrary/pdf/87741-Cost-of-Poor-Housing-Briefing-Paper-v3.pdf

[2]         M. Marmot, “Fair Society, Healthy Lives: Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post-2010,” 2010. Available from: www.instituteofhealthequity.org/resources-reports/fair-society-healthy-lives-the-marmot-review/fair-society-healthy-lives-full-report-pdf.pdf

[3]         Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, “Housing and Health,” 2011. Available from: https://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn_371-housing_health_h.pdf

[4]         Public Health Suffolk County Council, “State of Suffolk 2015,” Ipswich, 2015. 

[5]         Valuation Office Agency, “Council tax: stock of properties, 2018,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/council-tax-stock-of-properties-2018

[6]         Office for National Statistics, “Census 2011: Accomodation type - households,” NOMIS - Official Labour Market Statistics, 2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.nomisweb.co.uk/livelinks/14521.xlsx

[7]         Office for National Statistics, “Census 2011 Table KS402UK (Tenure),” NOMIS - Official Labour Market Statistics, 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/census/2011/ks402uk

[8]         L. Smith and J. Hill, “Suffolk Housing Stock Database: Headline Energy Report,” 2015.

[9]         Office for National Statistics, “Mean house prices for administrative geographies: HPSSA dataset 12,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/housing/datasets/lowerquartilehousepricefornationalandsubnationalgeographiesquarterlyrollingyearhpssadataset15

[10]      Office for National Statistics, “House price to residence-based earnings ratio,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/housing/datasets/ratioofhousepricetoresidencebasedearningslowerquartileandmedian

[11]      Office for National Statistics, “Lower layer Super Output Area population density,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datasets/lowersuperoutputareapopulationdensity

[12]      Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, “Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report, 2018,” 2018. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/719106/Fuel_Poverty_Statistics_Report_2018.pdf

[13]      Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, “Sub-regional fuel poverty data,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/sub-regional-fuel-poverty-data-2018

[14]      Public Health England, “Wider Determinants of Health: Suffolk area profile,” Public Health Profiles, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/wider-determinants/data#page/1/gid/1938133043/pat/6/par/E12000006/ati/102/are/E10000029

[15]      M. Braubach, D. Jacobs, and D. Ormandy, “Environmental burden of disease associated with inadequate housing,” 2011. Available from: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/142077/e95004.pdf

[16]      Marmot Review Team, “The Health Impacts of Cold Homes and Fuel Poverty,” 2011. [Online]. Available: http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/resources-reports/the-health-impacts-of-cold-homes-and-fuel-poverty/the-health-impacts-of-cold-homes-and-fuel-poverty.pdf

[17]      Office for National Statistics, “Census 2011: Occupancy rating (rooms),” NOMIS - Official Labour Market Statistics, 2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.nomisweb.co.uk/livelinks/14463.xlsx

[18]      Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, “Live tables on homelessness: Table 784,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-homelessness#statutory-homelessness-and-prevention-and-relief-live-tables

[19]      Crisis, “The homelessness monitor: England 2018,” 2018. [Online]. Available: www.crisis.org.uk/media/238700/homelessness_monitor_england_2018.pdf

[20]      House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, “Homeless households,” 2017. [Online]. Available: publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmpubacc/462/46202.htm

[21]      Crisis, “Homelessness projections: Core homelessness in Great Britain,” 2017. [Online]. Available: www.crisis.org.uk/media/237582/crisis_homelessness_projections_2017.pdf

[22]      Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, “Live tables on homelessness: Rough sleeping statistics England autumn 2017,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-homelessness#statutory-homelessness-and-prevention-and-relief-live-tables

[23]      Suffolk County Council, “Groups at Risk of Disadvantage Health Needs Assessment,” 2015.  

[24]      D. Parker-Radford, “Tuberculosis and homelessness: what can we do?,” 2016. [Online]. Available: https://vivbennett.blog.gov.uk/2016/11/15/tuberculosis-and-homelessness-what-can-we-do-by-david-radford-parker/

[25]      TB Alert, “TB and homelessness.” [Online]. Available: https://www.tbalert.org/about-tb/global-tb-challenges/tb-and-homelessness/

[26]      V. Adebowale, “There is no excuse for homelessness in Britain 2018,” Br. Med. J., 2018. Available: www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k902

[27]      Office for National Statistics, “Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsofhomelesspeopleinenglandandwales/2013to2017

[28]      University of Sheffield, “Study shows homeless people in England die 30 years younger than national average,” 2012. [Online]. Available: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/crisis-charity-homelessness-bethan-thomas-homelessness-kills-1.213096

[29]      B. Thomas, “Homelessness kills: An analysis of the mortality of homeless people in early twenty-first century England,” London, 2012. Available from: https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/homelessness-knowledge-hub/health-and-wellbeing/homelessness-kills-2012/

[30]      Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, “English indices of deprivation 2019,” 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2019

[31]      Suffolk County Council, “Rural deprivation in Suffolk,” 2016. 

[32]      Suffolk Community Foundation and University of Suffolk, Hidden Needs in Suffolk 2020. Available from: https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/suffolks-hidden-needs/

[33]      N. K. S. Davis, “Rural deprivation and ill-health in England ‘in danger of being overlooked,’” The Guardian, 2017. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/18/rural-deprivation-and-ill-health-in-england-in-danger-of-being-overlooked

[34a]      Public Health England, “Health Profile for England. Chapter 5: inequality in health,” 2017. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-profile-for-england-2018/chapter-5-inequalities-in-health

[34b]      Public Health England, “Health Inequalities Dashboard” 2021. Available from: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/inequality-tools

[34c]     NHS Digital, “Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2020,” 2020. Available from: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-obesity-physical-activity-and-diet/england-2020/part-5-adult-physical-activity-copy

[34d]     Public Health England, “Public Health Profiles:  Proportion of the population meeting the recommended ‘five-a-day’ on a ‘usual day’ (adults) 2019/20”. Available from: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/

[34e]     Office for National Statistics, “Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2019”. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2019

[35]      Suffolk County Council, “Suffolk Housing and Health Needs Assessment,” 2018. Available from: www.healthysuffolk.org.uk/uploads/Suffolk_Housing_and_Health_Final_Mar18HWB.pdf

[36]      Office for National Statistics, “Census 2011: Provision of unpaid care by age,” 2014. Available from: http://www.nomisweb.co.uk/livelinks/14522.xlsx

[37]      Department of Work and Pensions, “Carers Allowance: Cases in Payment - Data from May 2018,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk

[38]      Office for National Statistics, “Domestic abuse in England and Wales - Data Tool,” 2018.  Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/domesticabuseinenglandandwalesdatatool

[39]      HM Government, “Keep On Caring Supporting Young People from Care to Independence,” 2016. Available from: assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/535899/Care-Leaver-Strategy.pdf

[40]      Ministry of Justice, “Prison population figures: 2017,” 2018.  Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/prison-population-figures-2017#history

[41]      West Suffolk Councils, “West Suffolk Homelessness Reduction Strategy2018 – 2023,” 2018. Available from: https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Council/Policies_Strategies_and_Plans/upload/homlessness-reduction-and-rough-sleeping_full-doc.pdf

[42]      Suffolk County Council, “UK Armed Forces and Veterans Profile for Suffolk,” 2016.

[43]      Centre for Mental Health and J. Boardman, “More than shelter,” 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/publications/more-shelter

[44]      Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, “Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals,” 2017. Available from: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-right-homes-in-the-right-places-consultation-proposals

[45]      House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee, “Housing for older people Second Report of Session 2017-19,” 2018. Available from:  https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcomloc/370/370.pdf

[46]      Sheffield Hallam University, “Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations.” Available from: https://www4.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/news/housing-older-people-supply-recommendations-hopsr

[47]      Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, “Fixing our broken housing market,” 2017. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fixing-our-broken-housing-market

[48]      Suffolk Coastal District Council, Waveney District Council, and Suffolk Coastal and Waveney Councils, “East Suffolk Housing Strategy 2017-23,” 2017. [Online]. Available: http://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/assets/Housing/East-Suffolk-Housing-Strategy-2017-2023/East-Suffolk-Housing-Strategy-2017-23.pdf

[49]      Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, “West Suffolk Housing Strategy 2014,” 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Council/Policies_Strategies_and_Plans/housingstrategy.cfm and https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Council/Policies_Strategies_and_Plans/upload/West-Suffolk-Housing-Strategy-with-appendices-West-Suffolk-Council-version.pdf  (amended 21 May 2019)

[50]      Ipswich Borough Council, “Ipswich Housing Strategy 2017-22,” 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.ipswich.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ipswich_housing_strategy_2017-2022.pdf

[51]      Babergh District Council and Mid Suffolk District Council, “Homes and Housing Strategy,” 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.babergh.gov.uk/housing/homes-strategy/

[52]      House of Commons, Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. London, 2017, pp. 13–20. Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/13/contents/enacted

[53]      Shelter, “Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 Policy and Practice Briefing,” 2018. Available from: england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/1494871/Homelessness_HRA17_Implementation_Briefing_FINAL.pdf